Luke 10:1-9, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Sometimes I wonder what that means. I look at our own nation, and I say, indeed, the harvest is great, and yet the potential of our people remains largely untapped simply because there are just not enough laborers to harness all that talent, not enough teachers for instance or leaders or nation builders to convert all that potential for the common good of our people.
There is no dearth of ambitious characters who will want to enlist themselves and take advantage of leadership positions (in government, the private sector, civil society, even the church) for their own unsavory ends. Often these self-serving ends are blended deftly with lofty goals like service or patriotism or nation-building. But these characters are wolves. They end up raiding and wasting the harvest. They are not the laborers the master needs for his harvest.
I look at our own Church, the People of God, and indeed, I see that the harvest of faith is great, not in terms of potential converts but in terms of the potential of that faith to move mountains and silence storms. We are told it only takes a small grain of faith to be unafraid, to enrich the meaning of our lives, liberate us from our self-made prisons, and transform our society. And yet that seed of a promise can stay locked in subterranean vaults that hold our ancient fears and guilt and apathy.
There are just not enough laborers to see to the harvest. And it is not just priests and religious who are being alluded to here. The reapers for this field of God’s dreams are few and far between. They are scarce who have taken up the faith, taken to heart the Good News of God’s love in Christ and have learned to unleash the power of that love in the lives of others and in their own.
There is no dearth of believers who would rather be sheep than shepherds, no lack of those who would rather be ministered to than minister to the needs of others. There is no shortage of those who would rather debate and divide the community on concerns that are sadly self-referential, despite St Paul time and again telling us (as he does in the second reading today) that “neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision”.
They are few who would stake everything on what is truly essential. And what truly matters is that we are “a new creation”, re-created, redeemed in the image and likeness of Christ. There are just not enough laborers who would gladly bear the marks of Jesus on their bodies, who with St Paul would “never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to [them], and [they] to the world.”
And so we are told: pray to the master of the harvest to send more laborers to work on his harvest.
There is no dearth of believers praying all sorts of prayers out there. Pray to live for those who truly matter. Pray to see the gift and urgency of the new creation. Pray to rejoice that you are God’s very own, and that your name is written in heaven. Pray to believe you are loved enough, free enough, strong enough to be sent to the harvest of the master.